ERYUE HE, PEN NAME OF LING JIEFANG (1945— ) - The Dictionary

Chinese Literature - Li-hua Ying 2010

The Dictionary

ERYUE HE, PEN NAME OF LING JIEFANG (1945— ). Novelist. Born in Xiyang, Shanxi Province, Eryue. After high school, he joined the army, where he stayed for the next 10 years. Currently he lives in Henan and is the deputy chairman of the Writers’ Association of Henan. Arguably the most popular and one of the most commercially successful writers in China today, Eryue He is a household name, in part because of the TV movies made from his historical novels. His reputation goes beyond China to reach all of the major Chinese communities in the rest of the world. His novels have been reprinted more than a dozen times, not including a variety of pirated editions. He has won many prestigious awards, including the Best Historical Novel Prize. His work is based on China’s dynastic history, specifically the reigns of three Qing emperors: Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong, covering 140 years of a powerful empire. The three novels, Kangxi Dadi (Kangxi: the Great Emperor), Yongzheng Huangdi (Emperor Yongzheng), and Qianlong Huangdi (Emperor Qianlong), totaling 10 volumes and taking him 20 years to write, center on power struggles behind the walls of the imperial court. At the same time, they unfold a broad canvas of characters from all walks of life: concubines, officials, scholars, peasants, businessmen, and many others. Because of their large scope, the novels are considered encyclopedias of the Qing dynasty. Thoroughly researched, these novels, while re-creating history, convey the author’s conflicted feelings about traditional culture; his portrayals of an empire from its youth to the beginning of its decline reveal a sense of nostalgia and a lamentation at the irretrievable vitality of a great era. Heavily influenced by classical Chinese novels, particularly Cao Xueqin’s Hong lou meng (A Dream of Red Mansions), Eryue He believes that historical novels should be built on real historical events and enhanced through imaginative treatment of circumstances.